Boston goalie Tim Thomas makes a save against the Devils. (Andy Marlin/Getty Images)
Boston heads into tonight's game against the Capitals having acknowledged how well it needs to play in order to extend its two-game winning streak. Washington should provide a strong test early on for the Bruins, who look to maintain momentum in what is only their second game back in North America after kicking off the year in Prague.
Perhaps that's why the Bruins are opting for Tim Thomas in a third straight game tonight. Thomas has allowed just one goal in the past two contests, and helped keep the Bruins en route to a 4-1 win over New Jersey when Boston struggled to find its rhythm early.
"Thomas is a little more aggressive in net; he likes to come out and challenge the shooters," Capitals forward Eric Fehr said. "Overall, they're tough to play against. They take away the middle of the ice and they sit back and make you come at them. It makes it tough, but for a team like us, our big forwards just have to try to get the puck low and work from there."
Just two seasons removed from finishing as the Presidents' Trophy winner themselves, The Bruins started this year looking for more offense to complement their already-stingy defense, and they're off to a good start.
Contributing to that surge is Nathan Horton, who went to Boston as part of a trade that sent Dennis Wideman to Florida last June. He already has three goals, five points and appears to be boosting first-line partners Milan Lucic and David Krejci -- they've all tallied at least a point in each of the Bruins' three games this season. Michael Ryder has added a point per game as well.
Here are some other notes to keep in mind as the Capitals take on the Bruins tonight:
--Washington wants to get off to a fast start, for all the reasons discussed in today's hard-copy story.
"Getting off to a good start seems to be big for us to play a full 60 minutes," Fehr said. "We're getting off to slow starts and once we get our legs we're fine, but we've got to find them quicker."
--The Capitals are 6-0-2 against the Bruins over the past two seasons and have not lost to Boston in regulation since January of 2006.
--If Michal Neuvirth plays a complete game tonight, he will become the first goaltender in Capitals history to play every minute throughout the first six games of a season. He has also tied the team's home winning streak with 10 straight victories at Verizon Center. Olie Kolzig also performed the feat in 2000-01.
Neuvirth is 11-2-0 with a .930 save percentage and 2.12 goals against average when playing in the Phonebooth.
--Bruins forward Marc Savard passed an exertion test and will continue to get back into playing shape. It's the just one of many evaluations that will determine when Savard, who is still suffering from post-concussion syndrome symptoms, can return from long-term injured reserve.